Pericles

 
I CHORUS

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Enter Gower

 

GOWER

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To sing a song that old was sung,

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From ashes ancient Gower is come,

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Assuming man's infirmities,

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To glad your ear and please your eyes.
glad (v.) 1 gladden, brighten, cause to rejoice

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It hath been sung at festivals,

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On ember-eves and holidays,
ember-eve (n.) evening before ember-days [church quarterly 3-day period of fasting and prayer]
holy-ale (n.) rural festival

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And lords and ladies in their lives

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Have read it for restoratives.
restorative (n.) healing power, medicinal cordial

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The purchase is to make men glorious,
glorious (adj.) seeking glory, eager for renown
purchase (n.) 4 beneficial result, benefit, advantage

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Et bonum quo antiquius eo melius.
et... and the older a good thing is, the better

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If you, born in these latter times

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When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes,
ripe (adj.) 5 mature, sophisticated, refined
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability

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And that to hear an old man sing

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May to your wishes pleasure bring,

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I life would wish, and that I might

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Waste it for you like taper-light.
taper-light (n.) candle-light

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This Antioch, then. Antiochus the Great

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Built up this city for his chiefest seat,

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The fairest in all Syria;

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I tell you what mine authors say.
author (n.) 2 authority, source, informant

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This king unto him took a peer,
peer (n.) mate, companion; wife

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Who died and left a female heir,

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So buxom, blithe, and full of face,
buxom (adj.) lively, cheerful, bright

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As heaven had lent her all his grace;

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With whom the father liking took,
liking (n.) 4 lustful affection, sexual attraction

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And her to incest did provoke.

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Bad child, worse father, to entice his own

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To evil should be done by none;

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But custom what they did begin

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Was with long use accounted no sin.

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The beauty of this sinful dame

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Made many princes thither frame
frame (v.) 5 direct one's steps, shape a course, betake oneself

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To seek her as a bedfellow,

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In marriage pleasures playfellow;

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Which to prevent he made a law,

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To keep her still and men in awe,
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually

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That whoso asked her for his wife,

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His riddle told not, lost his life.
tell (v.) 6 disclose, reveal, explain

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So for her many a wight did die,
wight (n.) [archaism] person, human being

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As yon grim looks do testify.

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What now ensues, to the judgement of your eye–

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I give my cause, who best can justify.

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Exit

 
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